During a trip to Ladakh, Sandeep Sangaru photographed a tribe that’s one of the purest Aryan descendants in India

FEB 24, 2020 | By Sandeep Sangaru
“Isolated from the rest of the world, growing up at a time when technology is seeping into daily life in the faraway mountains… I wonder how these kids see themselves as grown-ups? They’ve lived in extreme conditions, got comfortable with limited… will their aspirations change how they perceive the world outside of their own?”
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT “Dropkas have distinctive features that have been speculated to be the last pure specimens of the Aryan race, descendents of Alexander’s Greek. But what makes them unique is that they have lived isolated lives for centuries in the inaccessible harsh terrains that seems to have kept their DNA untainted.”; “Drokpas seem to have a longer life expectancy, perhaps owing to their largely vegetarian dietary habits... Perhaps it’s their agility, their joyful traditions of singing and dancing, or their happy, simpler lives. Tsering Gangzom, then 85 years old, presented a picture of life and zest.”; “Young Tsering Dolker showed off how this tepi (cap) of flowers and jewels. Created usually using a bouquet of colourful natural berry flowers and embellished with multihued props, old metal coins as well as silver and gold jewellery. Each prop on the headgear serves a medicinal purpose. The seven coloured thread ribbon keeps ailments caused by the sun or eclipses at bay, the silver brooches ward off planetary influences among others, while the tepi, in general, wards off the evil eye.”; “The Dropka community is believed to have a self-contained, joie de vivre about itself. And with not many outsiders visiting them in their lifetime but a few anthropologists or wandering photographers like myself, who’ve documented their exotic lives, I wonder how they see themselves transiting into this new century…”

During an assignment that took him to Ladakh in 2008, Sandeep Sangaru came across a tribe that’s one of the purest Aryan descendents in India. In the village of Darchik, he came across the Dropka tribe that traces its ancestry to the Greek soldiers of Alexander’s army. Through this exclusive feature, Sandeep highlights the very details that make Dropkas unique to our heritage. Swipe right to view some of our favourites from Sangaru’s archives!